10 ways to tire out your dog… indoors!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

We’ve been stuck indoors with snow, ice, and temperatures below freezing. It’s supposed to warm up to the low 30s today (fingers crossed!), but finding ways to keep the dogs busy and exercised in the house has been challenging. We’ve had to get creative!

10 ways to tire out your dog indoors

Here are my 10 ways to tire out a dog indoors:

  1. Set up an agility course. We propped a broom between two chairs to make a jump and hung a blanket over our couch and coffee table to make a tunnel. This certainly wouldn’t prepare us for any trials, but it keeps them busy and thinking!
  2. Teach a new trick. By the end of the winter, I want Lucas to be able to roll over, Emmett to be able to “dance,” and Cooper to be able to give high fives. If all three can play dead, then you know the weather’s been really bad!
  3. Play hide and seek. This is one of Emmett’s all-time favorite games. I put the boys on their beds then hide somewhere in the house. I yell, “Find me!” They love this game, and it gets them to use their noses and to dash around the house.
  4. Stair ball. Obviously this one depends on how your steps are set up to determine if this is a safe game or not. How it works: You sit at the top of a flight of stairs with your dog’s favorite toy or tennis ball. Toss it down the steps, he runs down for it, then brings it back to you at the top. Did you ever have to run stairs in high school gym class? This is an exhausting activity!
  5. Food toys or puzzles. If you have something like a Kong or a Nina Ottosson toy, that works to keep them busy, of course. But you can MacGyver food puzzles. Use overturned cups or – my personal favorite – drop a treat on a blanket and wrap the blanket up so that the treat disappears somewhere on the inside. Lucas loves digging treats out of his blankets.
  6. Teach touch. We taught the boys to touch their noses to our open palms at the “touch” command. This can be a fun game indoors. Move around to different places in your living room, hold out your hand, then give the command. Emmett and Lucas race to see who can get there first. We also hold our hands out at different heights, call from another room, and reward like crazy for fast responses. (Side note: This is a great safety recall since it’s only ever used for fun with lots of rewards!)
  7. Break out a new toy. There’s just something about a new toy… Stash a couple for super cold days, and when your dog seems like she’s getting really, really bored, bust out the new toy to re-energize her playfulness. PetSmart has a bunch of rope toys and tennis balls for $0.99 that are perfect for this!
  8. Have a doggy friend come over. Cady lives next door, and she’s Lucas’ best friend in the whole wide world. Whenever she comes by, they all get so excited and start epic tugging and wrestling matches. By the time they’re finished playing, they’re all completely exhausted!
  9. Practice skills – quickly! This is a variation on Rally-O. Instead of teaching a new trick or behavior, have your dog run through what he already knows in quick succession. This will get him thinking! Sit, down, on your bed, stay, come, down, high fave, down, wave, whatever, all right in a row. Be sure to keep the order random and reward, reward, reward!
  10. Snuggle! No, it’s not exactly tiring, but when the weather is cold and gray, there’s nothing better than snuggling under a blanket (in front of the fireplace is preferable!) with your furry friends.

What did I miss?? Any other ideas for tiring out your dog inside on these long, cold winter days?

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  1. says

    We’ve been doing a lot of these mental things too. Our favorite is hide and seek. The funny part is Miss M will always immediately go to the last place we hid, thinking we’ll be there again. It’s kind of smart because she was conditioned to ‘find us’, but for people it’s kind of dumb, because of course we would never hide in the same spot.

  2. says

    Great list! Gus LOVES to play hide and seek! My husband and I take turns hiding so Gus is constantly running around. It is our go-to game if we are trying to tucker him out.

    Playing dead is on our list of tricks for Gus to learn…it’d be so cute!

  3. Kim Bell says

    My pittie mix hurt her knee recently so we are in need of ways to tire her out that don’t include taking her for her normal 2 mile walks.
    thanks for the tips!

  4. says

    Love all of these! With our wacko, hyperactive beast, all of these things have been awesome. Hide and seek is my personal favourite game to play, but we haven’t done it for a long time because she got too quick. Perhaps it’s time I broke it out again.

    Good luck with the tricks! I’ve got a few I want to teach during the holiday break as well. :-)

  5. says

    Hey, this is a great list! I love the “thinking games”….”touch” and “hide and seek”

    We have a storm headed our way and I’m off to the pet store to buy one of every chew toy I can find… ; ) Great post!

  6. says

    We play hide and seek with ours as well. One of us will hide and the other will send the dogs out to find mommy or daddy, whoever hides. Lots of fun! The dogs really love it.

  7. Chris says

    My personal favorite is hiding a treat and making the dog find it. It sure beats me hiding behind a couch! I command to “sit” “smell” (hold treat out to nose without letting dog eat it) “stay” then i hide it anywhere i can think of then give release command. This usually takes about 5-10 mins to find but when we first started it took 20-30 mins.

  8. Danielle says

    Love these ideas. :) I’ve gotten to the point where I have no more tricks to teach! He plays dead (with a dramatic paw over his nose), rolls over, says please (lays down with his head on his paws), bows (head on paws, butt in air), crawls (On his belly), and a million other things thanks to bad weather!!

    Thank goodness I can now spend the winter with more of a variety of activities. :)

  9. Mom of Luna says

    If you don’t mind the mess, cut up some treats (hotdogs) and stuff them in a paper bag. Hand it to your doggie and let her take her “lunch” somewhere to rip open the bag and get the treats. They have to puzzle it out and it’s good for them.

    I just remembered this tip because my dog was annoyed I had to bring her inside after only half an hour walk…lol

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